The marching orders for reaching the world with the Gospel are clear. First, the marching orders are to the church. Second, the marching orders clearly describe a movement, not just an action. Going, making disciples of all people groups, baptizing them and teaching them to observe all things He has commanded.
Jesus was very clear—go and keep on going into the world carrying the Gospel. He is unequivocal in His command to the church. The only right response is to go, pray and give so the Good News makes its way from the front door of the church to the ends of the earth. Jesus did not leave this task to some other organization, He gave it to the church.
As Southern Baptists, we have chosen to organize and expand the work of the church through the International Mission Board. The church is still calling out, preparing, praying and giving to send missionaries. But we are able to do so with greater efficiency, effectiveness and multiplication than if we were to do so on our own. We, as Southern Baptists, merge our people and resources to place full-time missionaries around the world to implant the Gospel.
The task of the missionary is to work to evangelize and congregationalize nationals. Through the establishment of local churches, baptism and discipleship take place. Our missionaries work to indigenize missions. This is paramount to the development of a Gospel movement, not just the planting of a church.
Through the planting of local churches, discipleship takes place. Christian maturity happens within the context of a local New Testament church. This is why missions are not just about winning people to Christ. People are baptized to identify them with Christ through the local church. In the local church, we teach people the truths of Scripture and help them apply those truths to everyday living. The goal is to develop mature believers who share the Gospel and become disciples themselves. The church is the context of community and body life. Missions without planting churches fails at the most fundamental level.
Missionaries must be sent and to send them takes resources. Since 1888, December (among Southern Baptists) means Lottie Moon Christmas Offering time. The foundation of our mission sending is the Cooperative Program. As one of my friends puts it, “The Cooperative Program is to the church what the tithe is to the individual. But the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering is the opportunity for individuals to go beyond their regular giving to participate in sacrificial giving to ensure the Gospel gets to the ends of the earth.” It takes both the Cooperative Program and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering to keep a large mission force that covers the globe on the field.
In recent years, Southern Baptists have retrenched in the number of missionaries serving around the world. We “out punted our coverage” by spending more than we had. Now we have a balanced budget, but there are 900 or so fewer missionaries on the field.
Thus, the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering is vital to the restoring of the Southern Baptist mission force. The fields are white, and the Lord is calling out labors for the harvest. We have the opportunity to give sacrificially and generously to extend the work of the local church through sending International Mission Board missionaries.
So stop, pray and then give a generous gift to the work of the Gospel. Give to mission engagement around the world by giving through your local church to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.